Thoughts from the International UFO Congress

We have several reports coming in from the International UFO congress in Arizona.

Robert Sheaffer, stalwart skeptical UFO reporter is chronicling it on his blog. Bad UFOs: Skepticism, UFOs, and The Universe – by Robert Sheaffer: UFOs In the Desert, Part 1. Great stuff!

And Tyler A. Kokjohn, Ph.D., provided me with this fascinating viewpoint of one set of the talks. These should give you an idea of what is going on in the UFO field. Times are changing, no doubt.

Divergent Singularities: Experiencing the 2013 International UFO Congress

Micah Hanks and Leo Sprinkle both provided skilled and well polished presentations. Taken together, their talks revealed a remarkable set of contrasts and insights into the state of modern UFO study.

Mr. Hanks may represent the future of UFO studies. Young, animated and new media savvy, he projected strong dissatisfaction with the present state of ‘ufology.’ Describing his method as a fundamentally skeptical approach with conclusions dictated by facts, he stated explicitly that he has yet to see convincing proof UFOs are of extraterrestrial origin. Noting that scientific understanding of UFOs has not advanced in the decades since the 1947 Roswell event, Mr. Hanks called for new explanatory paradigms. Disenchanted with the endless study of UFO history, he suggests the answers lie in our future.

Calling for radical change, Mr. Hanks incorporated several familiar UFO memes into his narrative perhaps to preempt resistance to his ideas. Reworking and extending the Cryptoterrestrial hypothesis of the late Mac Tonnies to accommodate the future technological evolution of humankind, he notes the stunning advances in computer technology and anticipates accelerating consequential changes. Postulating an approaching era of super-empowered humans controlling devices that evade temporality (time), he suggests that some UFOs are home grown technologies visiting from the future. Delving further into the nature of time itself and mathematical synchronicities that I simply could not comprehend, he indicated answers to the present UFO enigma will simply emerge as our technologies and intelligence evolve. The invocation of complex physics without even a superficial effort to provide background information always makes me suspicious. However, everyone else seemed to get it, suggesting I have some evolving to do.

Leo Sprinkle’s presentation was delivered without Powerpoint slides or any visual aids as he remained fixed behind the podium. Nonetheless, his strong story line compensated for a definitely old school delivery. Recounting his work and outlining his investigative philosophy he revealed quite a bit about his own experiences.

Dr. Sprinkle feels UFOs convey specific, metaphorical signs to experiencers; messengers from an unspecified intelligence that mirror our identities. And that can apparently be a complex process for someone like him who discovered through self-hypnosis he had past lives as a Roman soldier, a Crusader, a head hunter and a female in Peru among others. In stark contrast to Mr. Hanks, Dr. Sprinkle feels definitive proof is derived through the expression of deep emotional reactions during self-induced hypnotic trances. And that is all he needs.

Micah Hanks feels change is past due and is struggling to cobble together a scientifically plausible explanatory hypothesis. Leo Sprinkle thinks his hypnosis-based work is definitive. I was left wondering how a field with virtually no established facts and harboring investigators with such incompatible working philosophies could survive. I feel the evidence suggests ufology based on the extraterrestrial hypothesis has imploded and atomized. Instead of the singularity Micah Hanks envisions, I anticipate complete and sustained divergence.

People will continue to have strange experiences and witness inexplicable aerial phenomena. Such a spontaneously rekindling and diverse market offers steady opportunities for anyone providing harmonious, not necessarily scientific, explanations. Summarizing his own conclusions, Dr. Sprinkle may have also neatly encapsulated the future of ufology. This is the golden age. Run around and have fun.

-Tyler A. Kokjohn

COMMENTING ON SOMEONE ELSE'S SITE IS NOT A RIGHT, IT'S A PRIVILEGE. READ AND UNDERSTAND THE COMMENT POLICY BEFORE SUBMITTING. NONSENSE IS NOT PERMITTED.

  38 comments for “Thoughts from the International UFO Congress

  1. March 2, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    I don’t know if Micah’s approach to UFOlogy is necessarily irreconcilable from Leo’s. After all, before The UFO Singularity he wrote Magic, Mysticism & the Molecule, which explored different approaches to non-ordinary states of consciousness in which communication with non-human entities can be elicited.

    To me as always the answer will probably ‘Both/And’ instead of ‘Either/Of’. It’s possible that cybernetic technology, combined with the inclusion of modified ancient practices of entheogens, could bring about a new ‘techno-shamanism’ which could significantly expand human consciousness.

    In other words: Micah + Leo = RED PILL ;)

  2. spookyparadigm
    March 2, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    I think the author’s last comments are somewhat correct (except for the Golden Age bit). Sprinkle’s openly mystical approach is clearly the future of “ufology” which will probably lose that name in the mid-term future.

    In a sense, Hanks’s sci-fi musings are no different than old school ufology – namely musings based on the science fiction and futurism of the day. The UFO emerged during the space age, when space travel and rockets were the science fascination of the day. So the flying saucer became a space ship. Furthermore, while quantum theory was being put together at the time, to most of the public, physics looked to have developed a straightforward path to the future, if apocalypse could be avoided. Hence wise aliens with warnings of apocalypse. Unsurprisingly the popularity of unpleasant cold clinical aliens grew around the same time that the Baby Boom generation began to question science for several reasons (ecological concerns, the conception of science as a tool of empire post-Vietnam, and the rise of the religious right and its issues with science in the early 1970s, and so on). And now, in an age of advancing biological and information technology (instead of energy and transportation as in the earlier 20th century), and when physics looks much wonkier in the public eye (instead of “straightforward” Atomic Age physics, we get weird particles and “quantum” as a New Age buzzword), Hanks and others are trying to keep hope alive by imagining bio-info advanced entities (Singularity) who travel via weird physics through dimensions or time. I can understand the impulse, but it feels like Hanks, Tonnies, and others have been attempting to adapt the old concept (understand weird aerial sightings through musings inspired by near-cutting edge science of the day not actually related to those sightings) to the present.

    But I don’t get the feeling that they’re going to be successful (in no small part because what they’re offering does not make for good television, and as we’ve seen, if it’s on TV, tens of thousands of amateur groups and individuals will copy it). I think it’s going back to where the UFO came from, as the UFO was something of an anomaly that fit the era of Big Science of the WWII and Cold War eras. It’s going back to Theosophy and all its offshoots, in which mystically and religiously informed impulses and frameworks blend all the mysteries together into a magickal melange. Heck, there is even room for Bigfoot (to harp on recent topics here :D ). Never mind that religio-mystical worldviews have been playing a bigger part of Bigfootery in the last decade, it goes all the way back to Ape Canyon. I love how every general topic book about Bigfoot mentions Ape Canyon. And so many of them omit the psychic and extradimensional element (which Loren Coleman notably emphasizes in his recounting of the story).

  3. oldebabe
    March 2, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    Not everyone, Sharon. I don’t get it this latest rationale, either. It seems anything can be philosophized, tho… i.e. if something, anything, potentially could happen, it might… or will… or did?

    How many times must the illogical presumption, that any sort of extra-terrestrial beings can ever even get to our indiscriminate speck in the vastness of space, and why, be explained? (Rhetorical question, of course)

  4. spookyparadigm
    March 2, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    I wrote the above before reading Shaeffer’s part 2. Wow. Now I’m feeling a bit smug :D

    http://badufos.blogspot.com/2013/02/ufos-in-desert-part-2.html

  5. spookyparadigm
    March 2, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    @oldbabe (reply to doesn’t seem to be working in Firefox), that’s kind of what’s happening here. The surging popularity of mystical, religious, earth-based, and other explanations except for the ETH is ufology finally coming to grips with the problems of interstellar travel, as well as the public’s decreasing interest in space travel (the two are related of course). The only things that have been holding the ETH in place are it’s inherent pop culture simplicity, and the continued existence of the UFO generation (arguably those that were adults by the 1970s — how many times have you heard someone who is younger than a Baby Boomer, and into this stuff, reference “In Search of …” as a foundational text in their Fortean journey. That chicken is now coming home to roost)

    • March 2, 2013 at 1:22 PM

      >”The surging popularity of mystical, religious, earth-based, and other explanations except for the ETH is ufology finally coming to grips with the problems of interstellar travel, as well as the public’s decreasing interest in space travel (the two are related of course)”

      Nope, I don’t think that’s the reason the ETH is dwindling –although it still remains a valid hypothesis, though far too simplistic for my taste. The reason other ideas are being explored is due to the high-strangeness factor of many UFO reports, which are often discarded by the typical nuts-and-bolts crowd.

  6. March 2, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    Aside: The nested comments (reply) has been turned off because it was too difficult for people to read on mobile and would cut off after 5 or so replies. So, we have inline commenting now.

  7. spookyparadigm
    March 2, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    High strangeness was there from the beginning. It was omitted from the beginning. One wonders if the UFO would have ever taken off (so to speak), or any of these topics, in a major way if they weren’t science-ized in the mid-20th century. Or whether they would have just stayed in the occult underground, or the folklorist’s archives, where their ancestors had been.

    In a sense, the decline of “scientific” ufology/etc. squares the circle of the “just leave us alone” problem.

  8. Graham
    March 2, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    Hanks ideas remind me of one of S/F writer H. Beam Piper’s “Paratime” stories from the early 1950s, in that travelers from a more advanced alternate history are visiting this one, when one (or more) of their craft are spotted. To cover their visits up they start off the UFO contactee wave so that anyone who sees one of their craft in the future will automatically dismiss it.

    • March 2, 2013 at 10:54 PM

      >”To cover their visits up they start off the UFO contactee wave so that anyone who sees one of their craft in the future will automatically dismiss it.”

      I grok that, because it relates to the self-denying nature of the phenomenon ;)

  9. terry the censor
    March 4, 2013 at 5:33 AM

    I agree that ufology as currently practised has fallen apart.

    1) the respectable “nuts and bolts” ufologists are senior citizens, retired, dying off or dead

    2) thereby clearing space for a) conspiracy mongers b) new age nuts and c) younger ufologists who don’t toe the party line

    3) ensuring pretty much zero research is happening on new cases and old venerable cases are no longer treated as revealed truths

    4) and who would blame them considering the utter crap on youtube and in the MUFON database? Not to mention the shambles made of older cases by uncritical investigators who eschewed facts in favour of stories

    Even so, ufology could still aspire to be a science. Even if aliens had never been to earth, scientific processess and tools could be applied to reports. Since UFO fandom absolutely does not want that, ufology will continue on as a quaint hobby, like the soap box derby.

    The ufology community has no one to blame but itself.

  10. terry the censor
    March 4, 2013 at 5:45 AM

    @Red Pill Junkie

    RPJ, I think what you, Micah and Leo are describing — though not saying explicitly — is that ufology is NOT about alien visitation in the shared physical reality of seven billion people, RATHER, ufology is an entirely subject experience of personal revelation, where measurement, physical effects and coherency of data are entirely pointless.

    If I’m reading you correctly, that means the entire history of ufology as a series of recorded events is now just a whole lot of nothing.

    • March 4, 2013 at 9:08 AM

      @Terry,

      Obviously I can’t speak for Leo or Micah, but I don’t think that reflects my personal opinion on the matter.

      IMO the UFO phenomenon is like an onion. There’s the social component –i.e. the way it’s ridiculed by the mainstream media and the status quo, perhaps because it’s expressly designed for that– and there’s also the shall we say, ‘exoteric’ component –the things about it we can measure: photographs, radar readings, trace evidence in the ground, etc.

      But I’ve also come to a point when I realize there’s also an ‘esoteric’ component to this whole mystery: the way it affects and changes us from the inside. And yes, I guess the ‘visionary’ experience, either elicited by an Ayahuasca brew, or a light in the sky, is part of it.

      You know how many in the UFO community are advocating for ‘Disclosure’, which in their eyes means the president of the United States addressing the nation via television and revealing the truth about UFOs –and the truth, according to them, is that UFOs are extraterrestrial craft.

      I don’t see that happening any time soon. More to the point, I no longer care (that much) if it happens at all. And I believe the intelligence behind the phenomenon doesn’t care either. WE are the ones preoccupied with our quaint social hierarchies, but they sure as hell aren’t.

      What we have is a ‘grassroots’ contact. They seem to be interested in having interaction with humans on a one-to-one basis, unrestricted by any structure of power.

      Very gnostic, don’t you think? ;)

    • March 4, 2013 at 9:11 AM

      >”The ufology community has no one to blame but itself.”

      Well now, don’t be too hasty. To be fair, there’s ample evidence to suggest the Intelligence agencies sabotaged the major UFO organizations from within –NICAP & APRO

      And it’s my suspicions the same thing is happening with MUFON today, with the help of a gentleman by the name of Robert Bigelow ;)

      But, as one can assess by my previous comment, the demise of MUFON is something that doesn’t particularly worry me.

      • March 4, 2013 at 9:20 AM

        I’ll have to call you out for evidence on that RPJ. Conspiracy?

        Also, when I researched amateur investigators, I thought it was actually a GOOD thing that there was an overarching org that trained investigators and had a nationwide network. Compare the alternative – a HUGE array of ghost and cryptid hunters doing their own (wrong-headed) things and getting absolutely no where.

        At least MUFON had a database.

        • March 4, 2013 at 9:44 AM

          For reference I’d suggest Richard Dolan’s UFOs and the National Security State (vol. 2), along with Greg Bishop’s Project Beta.

          And if you go to the FAA webpage, when you query on the protocol to report a UFO, *they* point you to Bigelow!

          http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/ATC/atc0908.html

          >Also, when I researched amateur investigators, I thought it was actually a GOOD thing that there was an overarching org that trained investigators and had a nationwide network. Compare the alternative – a HUGE array of ghost and cryptid hunters doing their own (wrong-headed) things and getting absolutely no where.

          Fair point. But the problem with MUFON is that they are too biased in their approach. They have made up their mind that UFOs = ET craft, and because of that they dismiss a lot of valuable material that contradicts their hypothesis.

          As my friend Mike Clelland likes to point out, in the MUFON questionnaire you never find them asking to the witnesses about how they felt. They never return 5-10 years after the event to record any significant changes in the witness’ belief system either.

          >At least MUFON had a database.

          So much that will do to us. Bigelow has kind of appropriated the database for himself since he was involved with MUFON.

          Erosion from within. Never fails.

  11. spookyparadigm
    March 4, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    I haven’t read Project Beta yet. I’ve only heard good things about it, but listening to Bishop’s later web-based efforts, such as some of his work on Radio Misterioso, and his continued work with and sympathy for some of the players involved, I think I will have a different experience reading it when I finally make the time, than I would have when it came out.

    As for Dolan, I haven’t looked at volume 2. I started reading volume 1, and never finished it as I was deeply unimpressed with some of the research and judgments. Actually, I pretty much didn’t get that far in, got to the bit on Roswell, a topic I’ve read all the sources he cites and more, and I found his blase acceptance of something like the Randall & Schmitt take on it, and least some sympathy for the MJ12 documents IIRC (I sold my copy of the book some years ago), off-putting enough that I didn’t see a point in continuing.

    What RPJ is referring to is an over-representation in the leadership of NICAP by military and intelligence officials. I personally suspect that this reflects the same reality that was Project Sign, the same reality that was interest by some in British upper echelon in UFOs, the same reality that was Stubblebine and co., the same reality that was the Ararat Anomaly. Namely, that people in power can have interests in the paranormal too, but that it isn’t evidence of either a great secret or disinformation.

    • March 4, 2013 at 12:49 PM

      >”As for Dolan, I haven’t looked at volume 2. I started reading volume 1, and never finished it as I was deeply unimpressed with some of the research and judgments. Actually, I pretty much didn’t get that far in, got to the bit on Roswell, a topic I’ve read all the sources he cites and more, and I found his blase acceptance of something like the Randall & Schmitt take on it, and least some sympathy for the MJ12 documents IIRC (I sold my copy of the book some years ago), off-putting enough that I didn’t see a point in continuing.”

      Volume first goes from 1945 to 1973. Roswell was in 1947 so I think it’s fair to say you just dipped your toes at the edge of the woo pool ;)

      >”Now that I have your attention, RPJ, let me ask you a question: Do you think the group(s) discussed in Nick Redfern’s Final Events is

      a. Close to reality
      b. Purposeful disinformation
      c. Not close to reality but a speculative chimera created out of real events and people
      d. Complete fantasy
      e. None of the above”

      Tough question. Granted, Nick could have been fed disinformation, though the way he corroborated the story with different channels makes me doubt this assumption.

      I honestly believe people shouldn’t underestimate the ‘reflective’ quality of the phenomenon. Meaning that if one starts investigating with the assumption that these are ET craft, then that’s what you’ll find. If you think these are the minions of Satan or God’s angels, then that’s what you’ll get instead.

      What I mean to say is that there’s a certain level of co-creation between the human observer and the observed phenomenon. We’re not just mere passive bystanders.

      I know that in the end this can turn pretty Zen-ish –if a UFO flies over Washington and nobody observes it, does it really exist? ;)

  12. spookyparadigm
    March 4, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Now that I have your attention, RPJ, let me ask you a question: Do you think the group(s) discussed in Nick Redfern’s Final Events is

    a. Close to reality
    b. Purposeful disinformation
    c. Not close to reality but a speculative chimera created out of real events and people
    d. Complete fantasy
    e. None of the above

  13. spookyparadigm
    March 4, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    @Terry, you and RPJ are kind of coming to the same conclusion. The notion of research is very quickly disappearing. This is the death of ufology. It is not the death of the UFO, per se, but that term won’t mean what it did a few years ago. The flying saucer arose out of a blend of fantasy and belief in the mid-century that had been inspired through a long-winding path back to (and still including) various forms of non-mainstream worldviews and magical beliefs, Theosophy standing out particularly. It emerged directly out of the Shaver Mysteries, inspired by pulps inspired by those beliefs. A number of the early contactees and similar writers that left their imprint (Adamski and Doreal amongst others immediately come to mind) were already part of that world and shifted to the flying saucer when it became popular. Only in the Jet/Atomic/Space age of Science did this shift to “research” and “-ology” make sense.

    That era is over, and while it has left some mark, the UFO has returned to the pre-1947 state.

    If we had to assign “blame” within the community, the abductionists would arguably be at the top of the list. The efforts of the first generation of ufologists were to strip what they saw as real materialist anomalies away from the Fortean morass, and turn them into the UFO. Abduction, once it blossomed past the first accounts of the Hills, plunged it right back into that morass, turning it into a therapy generation version of seances and channeling. It embraced the counter-culture subversive experiencers, just as before. Instead of Blavatsky talking to the ascended masters in India (the “jewel” of the world’s most dominant empire), it worked perfectly with the new “gone native,” with Terrence McKenna or Graham Hancock talking to the machine elves on the other side of the boundary of reality in South America (and John Mack hanging out with shamans like Credo Mutwa and railing against the evils of industrial capitalism based on the secrets of the ascended, er, aliens).

    But I don’t think we can blame them, as they were just returning the “phenomenon” to its roots. The most transgressive party is probably those nuts-and-bolts ufologists, who tried to drain all of that out by casting the contactees aside, carefully and tightly controlling the message with the centralized groups that Sharon suggests are a good thing (they are, if you are trying to keep a lid on the obviously mystical and keep your subject at least sciencey, if not scientific). They got tricked, of course, into accepting abduction because the Hill case met their expectations of clinical scientists and explorers. But once they let that in, it was all over. The ufologists were nerdy Puritans that said “no dancing with the fairies.” I can sympathize with their impulse, but they were always wrong about the material they were cherry picking from.

    • March 4, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      IMO the problem with the way UFOlogy has been played is that the researchers always trying the phenomenon to conform with their expectations.

      There’s a great audio interview between Mike Clelland & Leo Sprinkle. In it, Leo explains how in the early years of UFOlogy the ‘serious’ researchers were only endorsing reports of UFO fly-bys, but reports of UFO landings were not taken seriously. After a while UFOlogists reluctantly conceded that UFOs could land, but the idea that UFO occupants were to get out of their craft an interact with the environment was still a no-no. After a while UFOlogists accepted the possibility of CEIII, but the idea that human witnesses could get into the craft and communicate with the entities was still verboten.

      So the subversive nature of the phenomenon –IMO one of its most important qualities, that’s why it have always appealed to the renegades of society– has always been one step ahead of the investigators. The problem is that now we find ourselves in an age where ‘anything goes.’ People claiming to be in contact with Pleiadians, Reptilians, Reticulans, what-have-you.

      Now some people like Leslie Kean want to turn back the clocks as it were, and return to the good ole days of ‘scientific UFOlogy’ when CEII were considered to be the key to cracking this puzzle. Part of me agrees with them, but another part of me thinks this is too naive –the world is not the same to how it was in the 1950s, is it?

      And I have to agree with the damage abduction research brought to the field, but I blame it on different grounds: Researchers were trying to fill a double role, of being a researcher AND a therapist at the same time. And I think you can’t do that; either you’re main objective is to prove the reality of the phenomenon, or your main objective is the welfare of the people coming to you looking for help.

      The death of UFOlogy? People have been claiming that for decades, like in the 80s. But then a new UFO wave starts and people re-gain the interest.

      Right now I’m agreeing with Greg Bishop in thinking the answer to the phenomenon will come from someone or something outside the field. And I welcome Grant Cameron’s initiative to call to the attention of UFOlogists the role consciousness plays into all of this :)

    • March 4, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      >” Perhaps a purposeful attempt to damage the UFO community, but I suspect the interpretation of it as a way for the USAF to get out of the UFO business when it was becoming a pain to deal with and there was no more real official interest in the phenomenon as a whole, vs. individual cases, makes more sense. That all of ufology could basically founder on the introduction to one study is telling as to how strong it was as a “field.””

      Again, read Dolan’s book. The internal memos among the members of the Condon committee show Condon had already reached the conclusion that UFOs were nonsense before the study had even begun. Because of this there was an internal mutiny of people who went public with this, which outraged Condon and proceeded to fire these people.

      I think it’s fair to say the USAF was desperately trying to find a way out of the UFO business, and used the Condon committee as the perfect alibi.

      >”That what followed almost immediately was either a return to the mystical (two strands, either the 4D, or abductionism, or as we’d later see, both together), or to the conspiratorial (the return of the crashed saucer legend with a vengeance, and then hybrid versions of conspiracy that also involved the mystical and the religious), suggests that the vaunted history of ufology as even a pseudoscientific field has been puffed up more than it should be.”

      The very same things Vallee warned with Messengers of Deception almost 40 years ago.

    • March 4, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      >@RPJ, as a straight-reading, yes, I stopped pretty early. I rarely read books straight through, however, I skip around.

      Not an approach I’d endorse. You risk missing something important ;)

  14. spookyparadigm
    March 4, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    The funny thing is, for all the concern for intelligence groups and conspiracy, the demonstrably most damaging event for old-school ufology, the thing that killed the “secular” nuts-and-bolts groups that led to the end of NICAP and APRO as major functioning institutions, with MUFON a dim reminder of the era, was the Condon report. Perhaps a purposeful attempt to damage the UFO community, but I suspect the interpretation of it as a way for the USAF to get out of the UFO business when it was becoming a pain to deal with and there was no more real official interest in the phenomenon as a whole, vs. individual cases, makes more sense. That all of ufology could basically founder on the introduction to one study is telling as to how strong it was as a “field.” That what followed almost immediately was either a return to the mystical (two strands, either the 4D, or abductionism, or as we’d later see, both together), or to the conspiratorial (the return of the crashed saucer legend with a vengeance, and then hybrid versions of conspiracy that also involved the mystical and the religious), suggests that the vaunted history of ufology as even a pseudoscientific field has been puffed up more than it should be.

  15. spookyparadigm
    March 4, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    @RPJ, as a straight-reading, yes, I stopped pretty early. I rarely read books straight through, however, I skip around. And I absolutely check references first. My take on Volume 1 was that it’s size, elements of its writing style, and the quantity of footnotes, gave it the appearance of a solid work of scholarship, whereas even a somewhat close-reading of a given section suggested larger issues as to the bar set for that scholarship. Hearing a number of interviews with Dolan, including when he was a semi-regular on the Paracast, time and again killed my enthusiasm for returning to the book.

    Re: Final Events, I believe you are more charitable than I. All I will say on this is that the cornerstone, the Crowley-Lam-Parsons-UFO connection drawn in the volume, IMO only makes sense in a world after a post-1960s Fortean perspective. I can buy them investigating Parsons for his quasi-espionage for Israel. I can buy them investigating Parsons as a counterintelligence liability due to his sexual and other activities. But I have an incredibly difficult time believing that a set of FBI, or even the woolier CIA, and related types in ca. 1954 would have made that connection. Notions of the occult and magic as creative endeavors, and the concept of the UFO as a mystical phenomenon (one that could be tied to extradimensional or magickal portals and workings) that underpin this notion would have been utterly alien (so to speak) to a white-shirt black tie fedora guy of the era, even to the Yale CIA types.

  16. terry the censor
    March 4, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    @RPJ

    > Very gnostic, don’t you think?

    No. I think you’re using “gnostic” wrong.

    Compare what you just wrote (March 4, 2013 at 9:08 AM) to what I mused was the effect of the “Micah + Leo = RPJ” position:

    RPJ: “There’s the social component [...] and there’s also the shall we say, ‘exoteric’ component –the things about it we can measure: photographs, radar readings, trace evidence in the ground, etc.”

    TTC: “ufology is an entirely subject experience of personal revelation, where measurement, physical effects and coherency of data are entirely pointless”

    Then compare our statements to the position of gnosticsm:

    “the general rejection of this world as a product of error and ignorance, and the positing of a higher world, to which the human soul will eventually return”

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/gnostic/

    What I described matches gnosticism pretty well, though my phrasing lacks the uplifting tone.

    • March 4, 2013 at 1:38 PM

      @Terry,

      Let’s agree that gnosticism –and all its different manifestations– deals with a secret knowledge, intended to expand the consciousness of the practitioner in order to reveal the true nature of reality.

      Deal? ;)

  17. terry the censor
    March 4, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    @RPJ

    You’re a smart guy and have good insights on many fringe topics, but in discussing NICAP and APRO, your reliance on second-hand sources shows badly. I have to call you out on it.

    > there’s ample evidence to suggest the Intelligence agencies sabotaged the major UFO organizations from within –NICAP & APRO
    > I’d suggest Richard Dolan’s UFOs and the National Security State (vol. 2)

    Please, Dolan? I own this book. It offers mere innuendo: Keyhoe’s NICAP successors, Joseph Bryan and John Acuff, had worked for or had unstated “strong ties” with the intelligence community, therefore they were sabateurs (p 15). Dolan suggests but does not document ANYTHING they did to sabotage NICAP!
    As for APRO, Dolan gives us something worse than innuendo. William Moore’s acknowledged duplicity is cited, but that refers to Paul Bennewitz, not APRO itself. Dolan notes: “The Lorenzens were aware he had connections to the world of intelligence…Moore had told them several times about his connection” (p 231). Is that how sabateurs operate, in the open? Unable to demonstrate named government people undermining APRO, Dolan is reduced again to more innuendo based on the hearsay of some of the least credible persons in the history of ufology! Richard Doty (p 231), Todd Zechel (p. 255) and Robert Dean (p. 441). Kevin Randle was spying on APRO for the government? Really???

    If you read the work of Keyhoe, instead of relying on second-hand spin, a different picture emerges. In the NICAP newsletters, Keyhoe was begging for money from the very beginning, and then ceaselessly — it was never a robustly healthy organisation. Also, it didn’t take long before Keyhoe went from straight reporting of intriguing insider intel to making nutty and never-verified claims about motherships and UFO attacks on military planes (this view of Keyhoe’s unreliability is not that of so-called debunkers, it is the view of Dr. Michael Swords, former CUFOS bigwig, who admonished me for reading Keyhoe’s third book!). Likewise, in “Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind” (1995), C.D.B. Bryan, son of Joseph Bryan, testifies to “my father’s unswerving, outspoken faith in UFOs, which he maintained until his death in 1993.” In the son’s opinion, “Anyone who knows anything about the history of NICAP knows that the group didn’t need anybody’s help in its disintegration; it simply self-destructed” (both quotes from the note at the bottom of pages 190-1). As for APRO’s decline, Dolan himself points at the obvious factors. Walter Andrus split from APRO and took many of its member with him (pp 15-16). Also, the Lorenzens ran the shop themselves and had “never cultivated anyone to succeed them in the management of their far-flung organization.” James died in 1986, Coral in 1988. “With her death, the remaining board members decided to dissolve the group” (both quotes from p 440).

    Speculation and innuendo is not “ample evidence” of anything but an unreliable source.

    • March 4, 2013 at 3:40 PM

      >”Dolan suggests but does not document ANYTHING they did to sabotage NICAP!”

      Well, one of the things Dolan *did* document is how after Keyhoe was booted the board of directors decided to give themselves a whooping raise, further straining the organization’s dwindling resources. I also think (I could be mistaken though) that after Bryan was kicked out he demanded a very hefty compensation. You know as well as I do that UFO organizations have always had money problems; in fact, by the end of his life Hynek was duped by that couple who first promised to give him money, but then backed out of the deal (*).

      There was more to that, but I don’t have the book with me right now.

      Re. APRO you should at least acknowledge that the Intel community –or, if you wish, some members of the Intel community– did seek Moore, who was a member of the board of directors for APRO. The Lorenzens knew Moore had inside sources, but I don’t think they knew Moore was also writing reports about them for AFOSI.

      But if you’re not comfortable with the adverb ‘ample’ then I have no problem changing it to ‘some’. It’s all a matter of subjective value, frankly ;)

      I’m not saying the demise of these organizations was SOLELY due to alphabet-soup agencies intervention, but I do think it’s an element that needs to be weighed in.

      (*) In fact I suspect it was the same ‘dangling carrot’ approach the way MUFON was lured into making deals with Bigelow, an affair that seriously backfired for them.

  18. spookyparadigm
    March 4, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    @RPJ, I’m well aware of the shenanigans regarding Condon, I think I have a copy of the rebuttal by the disgruntles lying around somewhere (here it is, the Saunders and Harkins book). I would consider it malicious, but at the same time, not part of a larger plan, nor were the larger ramifications going to be obvious. The simplest explanation is that Condon was happy to take Pentagon money, and on a topic he thought was gibberish, try to best steer between taking the money, making the grant source happy ( the USAF), and not trying to damage the image of his employer (U of C). He was probably quite surprised that some of the researchers took the work seriously. Had it been a more orchestrated plan, I doubt he would have had the mutiny, because he would have found more amenable personnel.

    As for Vallee, he was describing something already in the air at the time (I have read Messengers), and part of the larger culture of his time. He was writing in a time that was approaching revolution in a way we really haven’t seen since. Black Panthers, SLA, Weather Underground, etc., never mind the more fascist groups to emerge in Europe at the time and that would soon be emerging in the US, and never mind the proliferation of scads of new religious movements of all kinds, including the wild and woolier side of Christianity before it got hammered into the religious right. I do suspect that Vallee was overinterpreting what he was experiencing. IMHO, it’s of a piece with The Mothman Prophecies, both paranoid products of the 1970s as the wave of the 1960s went crashing down (ala Fear and Loathing a few years earlier), and people were looking for answers as to what had happened.

    So, is William Moore and his role in Roswell as a stooge of the Manipulators (as the buildup of these legends is contemporary with Messengers and almost contemporary with Prophecies)? Or is he just another bit player who on occasion got used for entirely different purposes to secure military activities at the last height of the Cold War during the 1970s Soviet military buildup and the Carter-Reagan response (while we associate the last great peak in the Cold War with Reagan, much of the buildup began under Carter, including the go-ahead for … stealth aircraft out in Nevada). It’s getting shopped around by Berlitz is part of a plot, or just another attempt by Berlitz and Moore to reap more profit as they had with the Bermuda Triangle and the Philadelphia Experiment? And so on.

    • March 4, 2013 at 7:14 PM

      >”He was probably quite surprised that some of the researchers took the work seriously. Had it been a more orchestrated plan, I doubt he would have had the mutiny, because he would have found more amenable personnel.”

      So instead of a saboteur he was just a slacker? LOL maybe there’s something to that after all. Let’s also keep in mind that Condon’s reputation had been disgraced during the McCarthy era, so IMO he was something of an expendable pawn –i.e. if his reputation got tarnished even further the government had nothing to lose.

      >”As for Vallee, he was describing something already in the air at the time (I have read Messengers), and part of the larger culture of his time. He was writing in a time that was approaching revolution in a way we really haven’t seen since. Black Panthers, SLA, Weather Underground, etc., never mind the more fascist groups to emerge in Europe at the time and that would soon be emerging in the US, and never mind the proliferation of scads of new religious movements of all kinds, including the wild and woolier side of Christianity before it got hammered into the religious right. I do suspect that Vallee was overinterpreting what he was experiencing. IMHO, it’s of a piece with The Mothman Prophecies, both paranoid products of the 1970s as the wave of the 1960s went crashing down (ala Fear and Loathing a few years earlier), and people were looking for answers as to what had happened.”

      Interesting interpretation. Yeah, I do agree that if the government likes to keep tabs on UFO circles is not because they’re too worried UFO buffs are going to uncover the lid on their big black secrets, but because there’s a frequent association between interest in the paranormal & political radicalization.

      I also suspect that during times of political/social instability there’s a spike in paranormal sightings. Perhaps because people are more worried about war, or have more free time in their hands because they were kicked out of their jobs. Or, just like poltergeist activity seems to be ignited by the pubescent turmoil, the same thing can happen on a larger scale with a whole population.

      >”So, is William Moore and his role in Roswell as a stooge of the Manipulators (as the buildup of these legends is contemporary with Messengers and almost contemporary with Prophecies)? Or is he just another bit player who on occasion got used for entirely different purposes to secure military activities at the last height of the Cold War during the 1970s Soviet military buildup and the Carter-Reagan response (while we associate the last great peak in the Cold War with Reagan, much of the buildup began under Carter, including the go-ahead for … stealth aircraft out in Nevada).”

      Have you heard Greg Bishop’s discussing how he recently unveiled the real identity of Falcon?

  19. spookyparadigm
    March 4, 2013 at 11:07 PM

    I listened to the Paracast interview where he talked about Falcon. I don’t listen to the show as much as I used to, but I made sure to tune in for that. I think some of that show’s best work has been in sorting out the inside baseball on MJ12 and those who fed into it in the 1980s (the panel they did with Don Ecker and co.). I don’t remember any particular stunning revelations from the unmasking of Falcon, other than that I had assumed in my head for some reason that Doty was Falcon (which I believe was addressed in the episode).

    As for watching the UFO watchers, I think that is exactly what it is. Especially in the early McCarthyite days of the Cold War, I suspect that if you were meeting in groups, you got watched. Especially if you were meeting in groups to discuss something like aerial phenomena in an era of bomber scares (I take the mundane explanation for the Robertson panel, that it was a bunch of security and bureaucracy guys alternately scared and pissed off at the possible civil defense hole highlighted by the Washington flap). We see this again in the early 2000s, where every peace group turned out to have an informant in it in the wake of 9/11, often based on the old ideas that somehow Bougies Against Bombs was going to turn into a radical cell or something. I really do think that despite what Nick Pope is selling, most of this stuff is barely on the radar for government officials who don’t develop a personal interest in it. It’s one more hassle. That’s not a sympathetic or antipathetic viewpoint, it just seems in line with how most government actually works.

    • March 5, 2013 at 8:34 AM

      @kittynh

      >”It makes me think of Bigfoot. When proof is elusive over time, will the bigfoot hunters be replaced by the new age types that are now just a minority in the Bigfoot movement?”

      LOL you mean the people who think Bigfoot it’s some sort of tulpa, or interdimensional being? I just love the way such kind of ideas can make the hairs of ‘traditional’ Bigfooters go up, as if it were some kind of terrible sacrilege ;)

      Well, why the hell not? What’s wrong with a few people exploring that possibility? Plenty of forest out there for all of them, I think :P

    • March 5, 2013 at 8:40 AM

      >”I really do think that despite what Nick Pope is selling, most of this stuff is barely on the radar for government officials who don’t develop a personal interest in it. It’s one more hassle. That’s not a sympathetic or antipathetic viewpoint, it just seems in line with how most government actually works.”

      That’s John Alexander’s PoV, on how the government is composed primarily of apathetic bureaucrats too worried about the budget to waste time with weird lights in the sky. And for the most part I agree with him, except for one tiny detail: If he himself managed to create one small secret group inside the government that tried to study UFOs, why couldn’t anyone else before or after him?

      The compartmentalized structure of the government –the infamous ‘need to know’– is the perfect atmosphere for the development of several independent cells who might be interested in the phenomenon –either officially or unofficially- that would end up not knowing or sharing with other groups. Just like Redfern exposed on Final Events.

      And I no longer think too highly on Pope, now that he himself revealed at the Nevada Atomic Testing Ground Museum that even after he’d officially left the MoD, he was still filing reports on some of the attendees to UFO cons.

  20. spookyparadigm
    March 4, 2013 at 11:13 PM

    That’s probably too harsh on Pope. He’s actually pretty straightforward once he describes what he did. But taking a half-time UFO report clearance job and selling it as “The British Fox Mulder” is, well, something.

  21. March 5, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    I do a lot of UFO work and I have to say MUFON (or our local group) is well organized and professional. Sadly that can not be said about the independent therapists that treat abductees (and anyone can call themselves a UFO abduction therapist). There are many people out there exploiting people that feel they have been abducted (and it’s more than you might think, since there are so many media influences most of us have been exposed to). Money is the driving factor for many in the new age UFO movement. It’s not nuts and bolts, it’s not science, it’s not investigation, it’s kind of sad. The days when people were sure just a really good bit of footage or one bit from a space ship, would be the proof needed (and we might get it any day) are slipping away. It makes me think of Bigfoot. When proof is elusive over time, will the bigfoot hunters be replaced by the new age types that are now just a minority in the Bigfoot movement?

  22. spookyparadigm
    March 5, 2013 at 12:53 AM

    The parallel with where Bigfootery is headed is extremely strong.

  23. Graham
    March 13, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    I’ve finally managed to run down a copy of the H. Beam Piper story I mentioned on March 2, 2013. It turned out to be the first ‘Paratime’ story (“Police Operation”). The Ace Books (1984 printing) volume does give when the story was printed, but Piper turns out to have used the famous Arnold sighting as the event where alt-history travelling craft (or more precisely scout craft from the same.) are spotted and then:

    “…our people on that time line went to work with corrective action. Here.

    He wiped the screen and then began punching combinations. Page after page appeared, bearing accounts of people who had claimed to have seen the mysterious disks, and each report was more fantastic than the last.”

    Paratime, Ace Books (1984), pg.62

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